RE: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 12:12:20 BST

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    Subject: RE: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog
    Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 12:12:20 +0100
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            In advance, apologies if others have been over this. I'm just going
    through weekend posts one by one. I felt I needed to respond to some of the
    comments here.

            <There was no refutation. Wiseman merely repeated the experiment,
    > exactly the same results Sheldrake had gotten, and then tried to spin it
    > as
    > a refutation. According to Wiseman's own experiment, the dog, Jaytee, was
    > at the window 78% of the time that its master was on her way home and only
    > 4% of the remaining time.
    > As Sheldrake says, "He makes no mention of the fact that Jaytee waits by
    > the
    > window far more when Pam is on her way home, nor does he refer to my own
    > experiments. He gives the impression that my evidence is based on one
    > experiment filmed by a TV company, rather than on more than two hundred
    > experiments, and he implies that he has done the only rigorous scientific
    > tests of this dog's abilities. I confess that I am amazed by his
    > persistence
    > in this deception.">
            This is a matter of personal dispute over methodological issues
    between Sheldrake and Wiseman (and his colleagues). The important point,
    clearly thought reasonable by the peer reviewed journal in which Wiseman's
    piece appeared, was that were methdological question marks, and question
    marks over interpretation of results. I have to say that the basic test
    "does the dog go to the window or not" is an extremely superficial way to
    test suppsoed psychic powers. You'd need to test hundreds of dogs,
    thousands of times to even suggest a relationship when using such a
    simplisitc measure.

            <Wiseman makes an equally absurd claim regarding Sheldrake's staring
    > experiment, which involves a sequence of trials in which cometimes the
    > individual is being stared at from behind while other times the subject is
    > not being stared at. Wiseman claims that subjects learn to detect the
    > pattern in the allegedly random sequence. Wiseman claims Sheldrake's
    > sequence is not actually random, though it was arrived at by flipping a
    > coin, and that to make it truly random you need to play with the numbers.
    > He says Sheldrake is sending out this allegedly random sequence to school
    > children around the world who then conduct their own staring experiments.
    > In fact, he recommends that people create their own random sequence by
    > flipping a coin, just like he did when setting up his experiment.>
            In a recent issue of the Skeptical Inquirer, I think it was, the
    mathematical demonstration of falsity in the supposed 'random' nature of
    staring experiments is presented very plainly. You can either accept this
    critique or demonstrate its inaccuracy you can't just dismiss it out of

    >> But even if such studies suggested psychic dogs and people with
    >> psychic eyes in the back of their heads, to leap from this to
    saying the
    >> cause of this is MR through MF, is a massive and invalid leap

            <Sheldrake starts with the recognition that vision cannot be a kind
    of TV
    > screen in the back of the head, for this would imply the Cartesian error
    > that we exist somewhere deep inside our brains. He argues argues that we
    > do
    > actually see what's around us and not merely an image of it reconstructed
    > in
    > our brains. Rather than passively taking in light, we cast a field of
    > vision over everything we see. While I find this explanation problematic
    > to
    > say the least, he does appear to have demonstrated that people can sense
    > when others are watching them.>
            No he hasn't. The empirical evidence for this phenomena is, at
    best, ambiguous not conclusive. Your levels of acceptable evidence are far
    too low.

            <As to the "psychic pets," Sheldrake explains this according to
    > fields. Like termites in a nest or birds in a flock, the cells of our
    > bodies are regulated holistically by a field. When a woman becomes
    > pregnant, her fetus is simply another aspect of her body regulated by her
    > field. Rather than breaking, this field is merely extended when she gives
    > birth. The mother and child are always connected through this shared
    > field.
    > But it doesn't have to involve childbirth. A collective field can appear
    > among any two people or any group, no matter how large. It can also occur
    > across species. Where there's "love"
    > (or hate) there's a field embracing the individuals involved. Not being
    > distracted by reflexive consciousness, dogs are much more aware of these
    > fields. This is how they can sense when their beloved master is coming
    > home.>
            You don't really believe this do you? BTW it occured to me over the
    weekend another way in which movement in flocks of birds can be quicker than
    one might expect- and something that certainly wasn't known back in the
    1930s- the capacity of many birds to be able to detect the earth's magnetic
    field (which helps migratory birds for instance). In other words, the tools
    birds may use whilst in flight could easily account for their flocking
    behaviour, all explainable by natural empiricially verified phenomena.

    > > <Nobody has isolated any mechanisms by which genetic information is
    > > > translated into organic structure.>
    > > >
    > > See, one of the problems here Ted is you'r constant use of absolutes
    > > that are wrong. Here's a short article from New Scientist (more detail
    > in
    > > 'Science', vol 293, p1068):
    > >
    > > 'Proteins called histones play such an important role in regulating
    > > genes that we should think of them as a "histone code". complementary to
    > the
    > > genetic code, says biochemist David Allis of the University of Virginia.
    > > "For some time now, we have known there is more to our genetic
    > > blueprint than DNA itself", says Allis. individual genes can be turned
    > off
    > > by adding methyl groups to DNA, a process called imprinting. what's
    > more,
    > > imprinted DNA can be passed from one generation to another, effectively
    > > passing down information that isn't directly encoded in our genome.
            <This is exactly what researchers were saying in the 80s, and
    Sheldrake deals
    > with this in The Presence of the Past. Yes, histones are among the
    > "master
    > proteins" that interact with genes, but this merely *describes* rather
    > than
    > explains what goes on in the cell. When proteins tell genes what to do,
    > who's telling the proteins what to do? Why, of course, the genes are
    > telling them. And these genes are instructed by still other proteins, and
    > on and on it goes like this, round and round. For every answer we arrive
    > at, another question automatically pops up. It's an endlessly recursive
    > loop. There's no possibility that chemistry can ever explain the basis of
    > form in the body. It's a joke with no punch line, a shaggy dog story.>
            You just can't see the possiblity of these things interacting due to
    simple chemical reactions at all can you?

    >> years tops researching. Of course there are gaps in our
    knowledge, but we
    >> are getting closer and closer to how it all works through
    >> oriented around the genes.

            <And the Holy Grail is always just around the corner.>

            With respect, it's not me trying to argue against established
    experimental knowledge and understanding through an undemonstrated, and
    undemonstrable concept. Just as we don't need quantum mechanics to fire
    cannon (Newton's laws will do fine at our scale), so we don't need the whole
    picture to produce clones, but we can do that with the knowledge we already
    have. I don't see any applications of MR anywhere, or do you have some?


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